Wednesday, July 04, 2007


SON OF A PREACHER MAN

As I sip my little (well, giant, actually) cup of heaven and check in on all my friends living in the animal realm outside my sliding glass door this early morning, I think about what today is, and what it means to me. 4th of July. Independence Day. Freedom. WUG.

"What is WUG?" you might ask? Well, WUG stands for Wilson, Urbigkeit and Goodwin. And the story of WUG goes a little something like this...

Forty years ago my Grandpa Ted, a retired Baptist minister, learned of this opportunity to purchase over sixty acres of "God's Country" along the banks of the Little Deschutes River in Central Oregon. He rallied his three Oregon-dwelling sons and two Oregon-dwelling sons-in-law to all go in together and snap it up. They did. Grandpa Ted then named it "WUG", using the combined initials of the three last names making this purchase. My dad, provided the "W", the other son-in-law the "U", and the three Goodwin brothers providing the "G". WUG, get it? Four of the five "brothers" were lawyers. Nothing says fun like a group of loud, highly opinionated, drunken lawyers sitting by a river bank out-pontificating one another!

Anyhoo, it was decided that this land (and the 25 adjacent acres we've since added) would stay rugged and in the family. That is to say, we are no closer to having the modern conveniences of running water, nor electricity, than we were 40 years ago. And we like it that way. It allows for us all to perform "The WUG test" on any potential lifemates. Nobody can unofficially join the family until they've proven to shine in the WUGgiest of conditions. We show no mercy. It is a long-standing tradition that anyone considering marriage must first bring the person in question to WUG, and let us all watch them sink or swim. How bad do you want to be in OUR family? We throw you straight to the wolves. Once in, however, you're SO in you will wish you weren't.

My grandparents lived in Santa Cruz, California, and only made rare appearances at WUG. They were good Baptists and eschewed and denounced the sins of smoking, alcohol and gambling. All card playing was considered tempting the devil, what with all those wicked looking face cards and all. Taking away the smoking, drinking and card playing, Bridge and poker, (just when they were around) was akin to killing all that was fun about WUG for the adults. Not so much the kids. I was only four when we started WUGging, my brother an infant. My twenty-eight first cousins and I all grew up on that river bank, together. We were the little ones playing on the banks without sunscreen and life jackets. We were the teenagers unsupervised and smoking pot in the tepee. We were the older ones joining our hands in marriage in the meadow, wearing hippie clothes and waist-length hair. The 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's and now the 00's have all been celebrated at WUG. We've buried beloved family pets at WUG. One set of human "remains" also rest in peace under the pines, with the intentions of many of us to join, eventually.

Now we are the parents of the children heavily sunscreened, life-jacketed and watched, playing by the river. We are the parents of teenagers that can't get by with anything under our watchful eyes. We are the grandparents of these children. Many 4th of Julys you will see three generations of WUGgers WUGging it at WUG, some years even four.

Uncle Ted, named after Grandpa Ted, left home at 14, more or less. The oldest of eight rambunctious kids. He worked on ranches and never outgrew his love of horses and the wild country. As his career took off, his outlet was the rigors of ranch work. Cutting dead trees, clearing brush, building fences, working horses, this kind of harsh physical labor was/is his preferred method of relaxation. He built a coral at WUG and kept horses there during the summer months. Rocky, Rigby, Star were the three I most remember. Uncle Ted taught us all to ride. He built a tepee on part of the land forty years ago, and we lovingly refer to this spot as "Tepee Island" these many years later. The tepee saw and heard things I'm sure would make your hair curl. It remained up for years until finally disintegrating under the harsh weather conditions of the high altitude of the Cascade Mountain Range.

Uncle Ted moved swiftly through the lower courts until landing as Chief Justice of the Ninth District Court of Appeals. He was considered for a Supreme Court nomination at least once. Many in the world of law and order have known of him, but a few years ago he became known world-wide for his highly controversial opinion on the Pledge of Allegiance. Is any of this ringing a bell? What happens when I say, "Under God?" On which side of this debate do you land?

"60 Minutes" did a profile on Ted during this time of heated outrage on both sides of the issue. The camera panned his Pasadena office and landed just long enough for the audience to read the words on one of his framed pieces of art hanging on the wall. "I should like to be able to love my country and still love justice," it said, quoting Albert Camus by one of his favorite artists, Sister Corita Kent.

I love my country. I love justice. I love that I am loved by a man that has done much to ensure my ability, and those in successive generations, to go on loving these two, simultaneously and inclusively. Grandpa Ted often said to those that questioned his strong belief in God, something along the lines of another Albert Camus quote, "I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there isn't and die to find out there is." I'll get you a t-shirt with that printed on it, Uncle Ted. Then you'll have the complete set. Your father would agree with you. You've done him proud.

13 comments:

Bossy Boots said...

okay, that's it, next year I'm there in the river with the rest of you!

Michelle O'Neil said...

Carrie this is so beautiful and rich. Love it!

Great photo too.

Lee Wolfe Blum said...

I want to come WUG'ing too! What an amazing man your Uncle Ted was. this is a great piece to leave for your kids too! What a cool heritage!
Lee

Eileen said...

I love this post Carrie. So full of your family history and traditions and changes througout the generations. You really brought it to life, great writing. Your family roots go deep. XOXO

riversgrace said...

Very, very rich and rooted. Love that you have strong family ties, strong stories, strong humor, strong vision.

megg said...

wow! Hello! I am new to your blog. Eileen directed me here after I wrote a post that she said you might be able to help me understand. so I came over to have a look and I have been breathlessly reading your blog now for nearly an hour! Your writing enchants me! There is so much here that I will need to come back and read more -

I loved this post so much! What an incredible legacy and connection for your family! It's very nice to meet you!!

holly said...

And, you've done your family proud, too! Beautiful post. Love the images and the history.

Now, how about a WUG workshop?

Wholia said...

Carrie - I'm thankful for another round of floating in the Lazy River with you this last week. I hope we will have many more years of repeats. Cousin is a very important word in my book.

kario said...

You rock! 'Nuff said.

Kim said...

Amazing!! Thank you for sharing these stories!

What wonderful family traditions and what a terrific man. And ditto Holly, you have absolutely done your family proud!

Anonymous said...

Well put, you captured the vibe of WUG in that piece. It's a good thing David passed the WUG test with flying colors(17 years ago).
Write on!
Kalei

Mols said...

As a Wugger for 40 years now, I can say the only bummer about it is that there are so many wonderful, Aunts, Uncles, cousins and friends that come every 4th of July that there is never enough time to spend with them and catch up. Thank goodness for the "Floats" down the river so that we can at least get snippets of our loved ones lives. See you next year.

lisajoelle said...

I hate that I missed the WUG fest this year, but through your writing, it brought vivid pictures to allow me to live vicariously through your post. Love girl thanks.